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National Diabetes Awareness Month By Johanna Hicks

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National Diabetes Awareness Month

The timing of this column is either brilliant or discouraging.  November is known as National Diabetes Awareness Month, and as many families share the wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, those who have been diagnosed with diabetes face a real challenge.  The good news, diabetes can be managed with diligence and a little self-control.

You’ve probably wondered how you or someone you love developed diabetes.  You may worry that your or their children will develop it too.  Unlike some traits, diabetes does not seem to be inherited in a simple pattern.  Yet clearly, some people are born more likely to develop diabetes than others.  Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes.  Yet two factors are important in both.  You inherit a predisposition to the disease, and then something in your environment triggers it.  Genes alone are not enough.  One proof of this is identical twins.  Identical twins have identical genes.  Yet when one twin has type 1 diabetes, the other gets the disease at most only half the time.

In most cases of type 1 diabetes, people need to inherit risk factors from both parents. We think these factors must be more common in whites because whites have the highest rate of type 1 diabetes.

Because most people who are at risk do not get diabetes, researchers want to find out what the environmental triggers are.  One trigger might be related to cold weather.  Type 1 diabetes develops more often in winter than summer and is more common in places with cold climates.  Another trigger might be viruses.   Perhaps a virus that has only mild effects on most people triggers type 1 diabetes in others.  Early diet may also play a role.  Type 1 diabetes is less common in people who were breastfed and in those who first ate solid foods at later ages.

Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to family history and lineage than type 1, although it too depends on environmental factors.  Lifestyle also influences the development of type 2 diabetes. Obesity tends to run in families, and families tend to have similar eating and exercise habits.  If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, it may be difficult to figure out whether your diabetes is due to lifestyle factors or genetic susceptibility. Most likely it is due to both.   However, don’t lose heart. Studies show that it is possible to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes by exercising and losing weight.

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 30 million Americans—almost 10 percent of the population—have been discovered to have diabetes and 86 million more are at risk.  Currently the United States’ annual direct health care costs and lost productivity due to diabetes and prediabetes total $322 billion.  But diabetes isn’t just an American epidemic, it’s a global crisis.  That’s why we need to shift our attitudes about diabetes, treating it with the urgent attention it deserves.

So what are the symptoms of diabetes?  The following symptoms of diabetes are typical.  However, some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.

Common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Women with gestational diabetes often have no symptoms, which is why it’s important for at-risk women to be tested at the proper time during pregnancy.

There are 4 key factors to controlling diabetes: checking your blood glucose, eating the right amount of carbohydrates, getting the recommended amount of physical activity, and taking prescribed medications.  For more information on diabetes, go to, visit with your physician, and sign up for the next “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes” series.

If you are looking for a delicious recipe that is sure to please…and one that is suitable for a person with diabetes…give this one a try!

Chocolate Pudding Cake


30 graham cracker squares (15 sheets broken in half), divided
1.4 ounce box sugar-free, fat-free instant chocolate pudding mix
1 ½ cups fat-free milk
12 ounces fat-free whipped topping, thawed and divided
¼ cup mini-chocolate chips


1)      Arrange 10 graham squares, slightly overlapping, on bottom of 8-inch square pan.

2)      In a large bowl, prepare pudding according to package directions. Cool in refrigerator for 5 minutes

3)      Fold 6 ounces whipped topping into pudding and incorporate well.

4)      Spread half of the pudding mixture over graham squares in pan; cover with 10 of the remaining graham squares. Repeat layers.

5)      Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

6)      Top dessert with remaining 6 ounces light whipped topping. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.

Recipe serves 12 and has the following nutritional content:  calories – 160; carbohydrates – 28 g ; protein – 3 g; fiber 1 g

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Closing Thought

“Your success as a family… our success as a nation… depends not on what happens inside the White House, but on what happens inside your house” – Barbara Bush

Johanna Hicks Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Consumer Sciences 1200-B W. Houston P.O.Box 518 Sulphur springs, TX 75483 903-885-3443 – phone 903-439-4909 – Fax

Johanna Hicks
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
1200-B W. Houston
P.O.Box 518
Sulphur springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 – phone
903-439-4909 – Fax
[email protected]

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Author: Staff Reporter

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